After my dad died, my mom decided we should all go on a family vacation to somewhere hot and beautiful to make ourselves feel better, so in late May myself, my sister, my mother, my stepdad, my uncle, and our family friend Lindsay wound up in Veradero, Cuba. In classic Sarah fashion, it took me a month to post my travel vlog and photos, but hey, they’re finally here!
The very last week of my five week trip to Europe in December and January was spent in Paris. The plan was to continue travelling until mid-March, but– and I should really expect this by now– things didn’t go according to plan. I touched on it briefly in an Instagram post, and maybe I’ll talk specifically about it in the near future, but throughout the entirety of my travels I was increasingly overwhelmingly depressed and anxious. It was in Dublin that I made up my mind about going home early to take care of myself, rather than continuing to travel when it was obviously exacerbating pre-existing issues. I found myself both eagerly counting down the days until my flight home, while also trying desperately to get out of my head and just enjoy whatever was right in front of me.
It’s kind of fitting then, I think, that my journey ended (or paused, I suppose) in Paris. It’s overwhelming. It’s gorgeous and lively and full of people and history and art and ridiculous extravagance. “No one does ridiculous extravagance like the French,” became a near-daily comment I made to my sister. On our first full day in the city we explored the Musée d’Orsay, and while it was already a beautiful building filled with beautiful art, we didn’t really expect to turn a nondescript corner and walk into an ornate, gilded ballroom. All my sister and I could do was turn to each other and ask, “what?” It seemed absurd, and unreal.
That feeling of disbelief followed me throughout the week. By our last day there, which we spent at le Château de Versailles, I was about 99% sure I was in a dream and not an actual place. None of this wealth and excess and luxury could possibly be real. The blues and blush of sunset reflected in the windowpanes of le Grand Trianon matched the pink marble of the building itself, like it was a painting, like its colours were chosen specifically for that reason. It didn’t make any sense. Even now I find it really strange to look back on pictures of that day because I have trouble believing it actually happened to me.
It was a strange surreal week of my life, in which I was at almost all times both incredibly sad and incredibly amazed. I debated just posting my video and photographs and not addressing how shitty I felt the whole time (like I did in all my other posts about this trip) but during this week it was just impossible to ignore, impossible to not address. My mental shape is obviously going to deeply affect my perception and experience of anything. I’m not sure I’d be able to write about Paris without also writing about being sad. It’s easy to show off the highlight reel, but the more I do it the more its inherent dishonesty puts a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not really interested in lying to other people or to myself about how I was feeling. But it’s been tough to be honest about it, it’s been tough to talk about travelling with depression or anxiety (or any illness, for that matter) because the general response is “well I haven’t had a vacation in 27.531 years” or “just enjoy it! Live in the moment! CARPE THAT DIEM! NAMASTE!” It took a lot for me to realize that– while of course I want to be enjoying myself– I don’t owe it to anyone to have a good time while travelling, and I don’t have to pretend like I had the time of my life, even though it is a wonderful opportunity and privilege. #firstworldproblems
So, yeah. It was a complicated week. Weirdly enough, despite everything, I think Paris was my favourite place that we visited on our trip. That’s how cool a place it is, even though I was straight up dead inside I still enjoyed being there. So just imagine how great it would be for a real live person to visit! My video sums up what we did on each day, and I have a whole lot of photos to share…
I spent the first week of 2017 exploring Dublin, Ireland with my sister. Here are all the things we did:
Jan. 1st: We flew into Dublin from Glasgow, Scotland, on about 30 minutes of sleep. If you want to read about my ridiculous New Year’s Eve experience you can do so here… Needless to say, we didn’t do much for our first night in Dublin.
Jan. 2nd: We walked over to Kilmainham Gaol– which unfortunately was SOLD OUT FOR THE WHOLE WEEK, like HOW DO YOU SELL OUT A JAIL– but we got to take a look at their museum and see the main jail area, which softened the blow. We then walked around Phoenix Park, and wound up accidentally walking 12km in total that day…
Jan. 3rd: We spent the whole day looking at various museums downtown.
Jan. 4th: We woke up at 6am to hop on a day tour to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher– it was absurdly beautiful and probably my favourite thing we did while in Ireland. So much greenery, so gorgeous even with dreary weather, it reminded me of home in that way. It’s crazy to me that you can just drive across and see the entire country in a few hours.
Jan. 5th: We visited the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and the Little Museum (an aptly-named small museum all about the history of Dublin).
Jan. 6th: For our last full day, we just wandered around aimlessly around the city and along the River Liffey, and checked out a couple museums.
It’s 4:00AM on December 12th and I’ve just woken up after about 2 hours of sleep. I have a plane to catch at 6:45AM from Vancouver to Toronto, where I’ll have a 7 hour layover before hopping on a second flight, this time from Toronto to London, England. If everything goes according to plan, I won’t be home until mid-to-late March. London is just the first stop on the tour of Europe my sister and I are embarking on. It’s 4:00AM on December 12th and I am very, very, anxious. But time, relentless as ever, keeps moving. Soon enough It’s 10:00AM London time (2:00AM Vancouver time) and I’ve just landed at Gatwick Airport. Oh fuck. Holy shit. Here we go.
Here is the rundown of the 10 days I spent in London:
WHAT I DID
HOW IT WAS
We were too exhausted after our long flight to do much other than wandering, but walking out of the Tube at Piccadilly Circus and looking up at the bright lights of the city really was something else.
Such high ceilings! So much natural light! And free????? How??? But also... Egypt called, they want their shit back.
-Harry Potter Walking Tour
We saw the IRL Diagon and Knockturn Alley and it was a good time.
-221B Baker Street
-Southbank Christmas Market
"All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock." -Mycroft Holmes, BBC Sherlock
Being in a room full of Rothkos at the Tate made me really happy.
-National Portrait Gallery
The Wellcome Collection surprised my sister and I by being probably our favourite thing we did in London despite only finding it advertised online as basically a collection of weird shit.
-Hampton Court Palace
-London Bridge Experience
♪DIVORCED BEHEADED AND DIED, DIVORCED BEHEADED SURVIVED, I'M KING HENRY VIII I HAD SIX SORRY WIVES, SOME MIGHT SAY I RUINED THEIR LIVES♫
A little known fact about me: I went through a phase of being REALLY obsessed with the Tudors. Needless to say, I was excited to be in Henry VIII's favourite palace.
-Handel & Hendrix Museum
I didn't realize how many dead people you're surrounded by at Westminster Abbey... It's a place equally as morbid as it is beautiful.
The Handel & Hendrix museum was also really fascinating-- the German composer and American rock musician lived right beside each other 200 years apart, and now their former homes are a museum.
-Tower of London
-Tower Bridge Exhibition
This was the day I annoyed my sister by quoting Hamlet even more often than I usually quote Hamlet.
-Lights of Soho
-Camden Pub Crawl
Lights of Soho is a neon art gallery (which, if you've seen my Instagram, you know is very me). We followed it with a pub crawl-- my first ever!
-Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
I've been wanting to go to Sketch (a crazy London restaurant) for ages-- ever since seeing photos of its crazy bathrooms online. For our last day, our friends came and met us in London before we went to Manchester to stay with them and we got tea and cakes at this absurdly gorgeous place.
And here are all my favourite pictures….
If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you giving a shit. I’ll be doing my best to keep updating throughout my travels, but if you want to see everything more or less as it happens the best place to do that is my Instagram.
My boyfriend and I went on an end-of-summer (or start-of-fall) trip to Portland from August 30th to September 6th! After two weeks of editing, my travel diary/vlog/montage/whatever you want to call it is finally finished. Here it is, along with some of my favourite photos from the trip.
Update 09/27/16: Had to re-edit and re-upload the video because copyright issues meant you could only watch the whole thing in Canada… Should be working worldwide now ♥
A couple of weeks ago I went on a weeklong vacation to Toronto to visit Nick—I just got the film I shot there developed, so I figure it’s time to write a retrospective.
Sunday, February 15th
My flight from Vancouver to Toronto left at 9:40 AM. After a four and a half hour flight I touched down at Toronto Pearson International Airport, where the daughter of a friend of my mom’s picked me up and drove me to downtown Toronto, to Nick’s university dorms, where I was staying for a week.
I stared out the car window as we sped down the highway and couldn’t help but notice how flat Ontario is. In Vancouver there are mountains in the horizon from almost every direction you look. The sky in Ontario is so vast, so endless in comparison. The only things that made the sky seem smaller were the buildings of downtown, tall pillars of light against the setting sun, then, against the night. It was beautiful.
Once we arrived, I got all my stuff upstairs, into Nick’s dorm, then we headed out for dinner. I’d woken up late that day and hadn’t even eaten before I got on the plane, so eating dinner that night was probably one of the most satisfying things I’d ever done in my life. We wandered around for a little while afterwards, but it was something like -33 with windchill, so our excursion didn’t last long, but we were both just so excited to be there, to be alive, it didn’t matter.
Monday, February 16th
This is by far the day I took the most pictures. I was carrying around my iPhone, a Freedom 101 (which is essentially a disposable camera), and a Pentax K-Me pretty much the whole trip, so I have a loooooot of pictures.
We woke up, ate breakfast, and went out to explore Kensington Market. It was cold, but if you were in the sun and facing away from the wind, it was pretty nice out. I couldn’t ignore the sniffles I have to make every five seconds though, a downside to the chilly weather.
Once we explored enough and were satisfied, we grabbed lunch at Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill. There was a Kimye chalkboard drawing behind me that I found EXTREMELY AMUSING (yes, they will last, forever, duh), and our placemat was thick paper that we could draw on with the crayons provided to us. I dug it.
Then we decided on a whim to head to the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, like true tourists. Nick wasn’t exactly sure how to get there, but he figured it out. The walk there was really nice—Toronto is so full of beautiful, tall buildings, I’m sure my constant “THIS PLACE IS SO TALL” comments throughout the week weren’t annoying to Nick at all. Vancouver is by no means a city with short buildings, but it is not on Toronto’s level.
The aquarium was crawling with families and small children, moreso than aquariums usually are, and Nick and I couldn’t figure out why it was so busy until we remembered that it was Family Day in Ontario. Family Day is a made-up statutory holiday that I think (I may be wrong) is only celebrated in a handful of Canadian provinces, just to give people an excuse not to go to work or school. And all these people decided to go to the aquarium. It was pretty funny, actually.
This aquarium was insane. It was so full of beautiful things—I have a deep love for aquariums and this one blew my mind. There was a point where you could actually walk through a hallway in a huge tank, surrounded by fish on all sides.
The jellyfish were particularly amazing:
Afterwards, we took the long way back to Nick’s dorm as the sun set, exploring this city that I’d never been to before in the cold night. It was magical. I know I describe a lot of things as magical, but that’s because the world is magical and full of magical things and I appreciate them and their existence. We crossed a bridge and got a great view of the city and I fell in love, a little.
Tuesday, February 17th
On Tuesday we explored Queen West and went shopping. I bought some nice clothes and Nick and I meandered the many unpronounceable street names in Toronto—Spadina is pronounced “spa-die-nah,” not “spa-dee-nah,” Yonge is pronounced like the word “young,” not “yonje,” (admittedly Yonge Street is one of Canada’s most famous streets, so like, I should probably have known that already, but WHATEVER), Dundas is pronounced dund-ass, not dund-us… Ridiculous. Maybe it’s just because I hail from a city that all the locals call Vang-couver despite it being spelled Van-couver? Am I just not proficient in English anymore?
I found out that Tuesday that I’m definitely not proficient in opening doors. If it was a pull door, I would push it, and vice versa. This inability to enter buildings haunted me throughout the week and became a running gag with Nick. Anoter new realization: diagonal crosswalks terrify me. The diagonal crosswalk at Yonge-Dundas Square was SO CONFUSING. I DON’T LIKE IT. GET IT AWAY FROM ME. I was clinging to Nick for dear life.
At 9PM we went to a small theatre that was showing A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, an Iranian vampire movie Nick and I had both been wanting to see. It was the only theatre showing it in Canada, and it was being shown for a limited time, so I really lucked out. Once it was over we walked to Fran’s, a sort of retro diner (Nick described it as cheaper/better Denny’s, which I agree with), and discussed our thoughts on the film before heading back home.
Wednesday, February 18th
We spent Wednesday with our friend David, who went to high school with us but is now attending the University of Toronto, and he showed us around the campus for a little before we went to get Korean food. There’s so much brutalist architecture in Toronto, it made me so happy. I love brutalism with a passion.
At the restaurant he showed us the Android app he was about to release—it’s released now, and you can and should download it—and it was just so nice to see him succeeding, doing cool things with his life. I felt (and feel) that way about Nick, too. David mentioned stuff about missing all his friends in Vancouver, and I mean, having people you care about move away is so hard to deal with, but watching them succeed and getting to cheer them on makes it tolerable. I can’t possibly be bitter about anyone moving away from home when they’re happy and flourishing. It’s something really wonderful to watch.
After eating, we walked around Yorkville, the fancy pants area of downtown Toronto.
After a late start to our day, we went to the St. Lawrence market (like actually, just went to it, we didn’t buy anything, Nick just said it was a tourist thing to do, so we did it, hah), then to the distillery district. We weren’t out for too long because it got really windy and really cold really quickly, but we had time to look around and take some pictures and check out a few small art galleries. Then we took a cab back home even though it was only like ten blocks away because we were SO COLD.
We went back out at around six for a fancy Italian dinner, then walked back home, appreciating the beauty of the city at night.
Friday, February 20th
Friday was the day I’d been looking forward to all week: the day we went to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition. I love Basquiat, his work, his story, what he stood for—I can’t even tell you how excited I was to see his paintings IN THE FLESH.
Before heading over to the AGO, we went to October’s Very Own, a store started by Drake, because Nick wanted to check it out. On the way there he said he’d never actually been that far West on Dundas before, so it was a little adventure for both of us. We then walked to the AGO, appreciating the neighbourhood and all the cool street art within it.
Once we got into the art gallery, we decided to save the best for last, and started exploring the whole gallery together.
My Snapchat story turned into this:
You could argue that doing this is disrespectful, but I was inspired by LACMA’s snapchat, so blame them, not me! Just kidding. In my opinion as an artist, it’s okay to not always take art really seriously. But that’s just me.
Anyway. Then we saw Basquiat. I cried internally a little bit. It was amazing.
We made the mistake of not eating before going into the gallery, so we were suuuuper hungry by the time we left. We left, on the hunt for some food.
Then we spent the end of our last full day together in Toronto unwinding in Nick’s dorm with a friend of his. Nick DJed a little, messing around while this light he owns projected colours on the ceiling. At approximately past-my-bedtime o’clock, we went to a pizza place called Big Slice, which, true to its name, sells pizza in huge slices, because according to Nick you basically aren’t allowed to go there unless it’s late or you aren’t sober.
At approximately past-my-bedtime o’clock, we went to a pizza place called Big Slice, which, true to its name, sells pizza in huge slices, because according to Nick you basically aren’t allowed to go there unless it’s late or you aren’t sober.
Then we were stuffed and sleepy, and we went to bed.
Saturday, February 21st
We woke up to snow—the first time that week it had been warm enough to snow (only -7, WOW, SO WARM). We spent our morning in, talking while I packed, saying our goodbyes.
Then a friend of my mom’s arrived to drive me from Nick’s dorm to the airport. She and her daughter, who’d driven me from the airport to Nick’s dorm at the beginning of the week, had never met me before and just did this out of the kindness of their hearts, how nice is that?? The world is so great.
My plane took forever to take off, and the sun set as we were still on the ground. I was excited to go back home for many reasons (the prime one being that in Vancouver, I can go outside without my nose getting all sniffly), and yet sad to say goodbye not only to Nick but to this wonderful place where he lives now. As the plane finally came roaring to life and the clouds rolled over the city as we rose into the sky, I kept thinking that I’d go back in a heartbeat.